Industrial civilization and its fossil fuels have allowed for a lackadaisy modern way of life that places an overwhelmingly stronger inclination on the various guises of narcissism than on genuine civic participation, leading to a crisis of democracy.
Over the past few weeks the notion of democracy has been getting its fair share of attention in the media, and quite rightfully so; Greece had a referendum on whether or not it was going to accept new terms for another round of bailout funds in exchange for the prolongment of austerity measures and the continuation of its debt peonage.
That this was a welcome occurrence is thanks to the short shrift that the term "democracy" has been getting the past few years, and I'm not just talking about neoliberals claiming to bring "democracy" to Middle East countries and such. What I'm talking about is how the term "democratization" has been continually added willy-nilly to just about every new technology that comes along: there's been the democratization of cell phones, of high-speed Internet access, of automobiles, and much more. So rather than "democratization" implying the beneficence of freedom upon a people, it now generally means the accessibility and wide adoption of the latest consumer gimmick by the masses.
In case you missed the media hubbub, a one-week Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was started back on June 29th with the goal of raising €1.6 billion to pay off Greece's most recent debt repayment and set it back on the road to prosperity. The campaign of course came nowhere near the repayment amount, and although it amassed a massive reaction across the Internet, it barely made it past the 0.1% mark of its goal – €1,930,366. But seeing how it had no realistic chance of achieving its goal in the first place, it's inherent that its failure isn't its biggest disappointment. That mark of distinction goes straight to its existence in the first place, and in particular the dumbing down it has foisted upon a very serious situation.
The brainchild of a Mr. Thom Feeney, a marketing co-ordinator in London, the Indiegogo campaign came with the tagline of being "by the people, for the people," a great gimmick if there ever was one. Since Feeney stated that he was "fed up with the dithering of our politicians" and that he "would have prefer[red] that we had governments that listened and connected with the public," it seems that European politicians forced his hand in the matter and left him with no choice but to single-handedly save Greece. Or so one gathers from his statements. Furthermore, and being the 21st century with all its techno-wizardry, the idea behind the crowdfunding campaign he started was that
The beauty of the internet and social media means that a campaign like this can become possible by word-of-mouth and people all across the world can get involved very quickly.
In other words, slap up a page on the Internet, put in your dues in the right social (media) circles, and whammo – you've suddenly saved a country! As Feeney then put it,
The chance to use a crowdfunding site for social good is really exciting and I hope that others will follow my lead in future and start or get behind projects like this.
This is of course completely absurd, and is actually little more than an exercise in 21st century techno-fuelled do-gooder naïveté, which got a marketer his fifteen minutes of fame and crowdfunding website Indiegogo a massive amount of free advertising (at one point its servers were so overwhelmed that the website crashed).
For hypothetically speaking, and supposing that the campaign actually did succeed, it still would have only bought Greece a few months of respite until the next chunk of money was due. For not only did the IMF recently point out that Greece will need another €10 billion over the next few months, but that it will need another €50 billion over the next three years, followed by tens of billions every few years after that. In other words, if €1.6 billion is such a tough amount to come by now, how can it be expected that tens of billions of euros, never mind hundreds of billions of euros, ever be paid off? Truth be told, Greece's debt is not really expected to be paid off, largely because there's no way that it ever can be, and and partially because some people would rather them not be paid off. I'll digress.